What is stroke?
This is a medical condition affecting brain cells that occurs when there is a disruption in blood flow to brain cells. This condition affects an indiviual’s ability to affect normally. The current occurrence is about 1.14 per 1000 in Nigeria while deaths due to stroke can be as high as 40%
This disruption can occur in two forms:
- Haemorrhagic stroke, where there is a rupture of a blood vessel, leading to direct bleeding into the brain tissue and damaging it. The decreased blood flow to sites behind the rupture causes brain damage. Also, the pressure within the skull increases as the amount of blood within the brain tissue increases, thus damaging it further. They tend to be more serious than ischaemic strokes and can cause death in 30-50% of people.
- Ischaemic stroke, where there is a blockage of blood vessels supplying the brain. This is due to cholesterol-containing fatty deposits (or plaques) deposits in the walls of vesssels. They cause narrowing, thus reducing the amount of blood reaching the brain. A lot o factors can cause this, but major ones include High cholesterol intake and High Blood Pressure. It can also be caused by small blood clots travelling from other body parts to smaller arteries and blocking it.
The severity/seriousness of symptoms vary on what part of the brain and how much tissue is affected.
There is usually no pain associated with the symptoms.
If the symptoms go away completely in less than 24 hours , it is uaually called a Transient Ischaemic Attack.
- Weakness in the arm, leg or both on the same side: This can range from total paralysis to a very mild weakness. Complete numbness or a pins-and-needles feeling may be present on one side of the body or part of one side of the body.
- Weakness in the muscles of the face: The face may droop or look lopsided. Speech may be slurred because the patient can't control the movement of the lips or tongue.
- Difficulty speaking: The patient can't speak, speech may be very slurred, or when the person speaks, the words sound fine but do not make sense.
- Coordination problems: The patient may seem uncoordinated, stumble, have difficulty walking, or have difficulty picking up objects.
- Dizziness: The patient may feel drunk or dizzy or have difficulty swallowing.
- Vision problems: The patient may develop difficulty with vision, such as double vision, loss of peripheral (side) vision, or blindness. (Blurred vision by itself is not usually a symptom of stroke.)
- Sudden headache: A sudden, severe headache may strike like "a bolt out of the blue."
- Loss of consciousness: The patient may become unconscious or hard to arouse and could die.
Stroke is a medical emergency. If you think you are having a stroke or a person with you is having a stroke, immediately call for transport to a hospital's emergency department; do not delay!
Stroke is however better prevented than cured. Chances of stroke can be reduced by:
- Check your blood pressure and treat high blood pressure
- Reduce your cholesterol intake,
- Use blood thinners appropriately
- Stop smoking or never smoke
- Control diabetes.